Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
As per the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) rankings, India is ranked very low at 141 among 163 countries. Every year GPI measures the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness. Towards assessing peacefulness, GPI studies the extent to which countries are involved in internal and external conflicts. It also analyses the level of harmony or discord within a nation; ten indicators broadly assess what might be described as safety and security in society.
The contention is that low crime rates, minimal incidences of terrorist acts, violent demonstrations, harmonious relations with neighboring countries, a stable political scene and a small proportion of the population being internally displaced or refugees can be suggestive of peacefulness. The parameters considered for these rankings includes factors like number or duration of internal conflicts; impact of terrorism; political instability; number of internal security officers or police per 100,000 people; number of homicides; level of violent crime; number of refugees/ displaced persons as percentage of population etc.
Notably, factors like gross domestic product and economic soundness are not considered in the peace index. Factors considered are related to tolerance for other religions, tolerance for other races/ castes, other customs/ traditions, for other’s eating habits, dressing habits etc.
As per the present GPI rankings, Iceland remains the most peaceful nation and Afghanistan the least peaceful nation. However, it is revealed that India’s ranking is below Bhutan (15 Rank), Sri Lanka (72), Nepal (76), Bangladesh (101), China (110), and Myanmar (125). In the Sub Continent only Pakistan and Afghanistan are below India.
Major religions that preach peaceful co-existence and tolerance like Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism etc have originated in India. In fact, the father of the nation is Mahatma Gandhi, who preached ahimsa or non-violence. Many believe that Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent movement finally led to India attaining freedom from British rule. Despite all these peaceful milestones, why is our great nation ranked so low in the peace index?
Internally, we have ongoing violent conflicts in many states of central India, Jammu & Kashmir and all states of North East India. Externally, we have fought wars in 1948, 1962, 1965, and 1971. There were armed interventions in Sri Lanka, Maldives and armed conflicts like Kargil operations, Operation Parakram, Mumbai terror attacks etc.
Are we quarrelsome and intolerant? Are we short-tempered and aggressive? Are our lives dominated by tension and anxiety? Are our lives dominated by protests, conflicts and violence that our country is rated so low in the peace index?
Most of our news headlines on TV, print media and social media are dominated by violent news, protests, religious/racial conflicts, political slugfests. Today’s news channels are like boxing matches with all participants and anchors shouting over each other.
Are we peaceful and happy in North East India and Arunachal? Isn’t it time that India, North East and Arunachal strive towards more peace and stability in society? We owe it to our next generations! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)